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Obama vs. Boehner: Who's winning the debt debate?
While the president says it's time for both parties to "eat their peas" and strike a painful debt deal, the House Speaker counter-spins that it "takes two to tango"
 
With the August 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling looming, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner remain at a negotiating impasse.
With the August 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling looming, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner remain at a negotiating impasse.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

As the heated showdown over a deficit-reduction deal seems headed for stalemate, both President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are taking their cases to the public. Obama said in a press conference that he has "bent over backwards to work with Republicans," even angering Democrats by putting Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table, and that it's time for both parties to "eat their peas" and strike a deal. Boehner said only a bill with entitlement cuts and no tax increases can pass the GOP-led House. "It takes two to tango, and they're just not there yet," he remarked of the Democrats. Who's winning the spin war?

Obama's got Boehner boxed in: Presidents have a natural advantage in these standoffs, and Obama "seems now to understand this power dynamic and how to use it," says Matt Bai in The New York Times. He's successfully positioned himself as the adult "seeking bold and far-reaching compromise," and now the GOP has to deal on his terms or risk "looking self-interested for backing away and imperiling the economy." No wonder Boehner was "so eager to cut a deal" before "his caucus rebelled."
"In debt ceiling fight, Obama has the edge"

Boehner's no-tax pledge is winning: "Tea Party House members and conservatives aren't the only ones pressuring... Boehner to refuse any budget deal with President Obama that raises taxes," says Paul Bedard in U.S. News. Voters of all stripes are tax-averse, and they're likely to reward Boehner and the GOP for having "dug in their heels against any tax increase sought by the Democrats." Besides, it's not like voters are all that wild about raising the debt ceiling.
"Americans rule out paying more taxes"

Anyone focusing on the deficit is losing: Despite the "conventional Beltway wisdom," most voters don't really care about the deficit, or "fiscal responsibility," either, says Jesse Singal in The Boston Globe. They care about jobs and the economy. And since many of the "solutions" to our decidedly non-urgent debt problem "could further hinder the economy," this "surreal" debt ceiling showdown is just "bad politics," especially for Obama.
"Is tackling the deficit bad politics?"

 

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